From Whence Gyoza?
Gyoza originated in China, migrated to Japan, and now partially resides in Pike County, Ohio.
These two-month-old hogs below carry inclination to help you enjoy Gyoza at its finest. Gyoza is a dumpling whose ancient origins lie with a Chinese nutritionist, who sought treatment for the common malady of frostbitten ears... He was ahead of the times in anticipating the connection between stomach and ears. When you taste the delicate nature of these dumplings, your ears will ring in gratitude, and the connection will become clear.
First, we start with the live animal, as pork is the primary ingredient within the dumpling, in addition to water chestnuts and chives. Since we are honoring a recipe nearly 2,000 years old, ingredients presented need to do justice to the ages. We therefore include in this product the very best pork possible. Doing so mostly entails providing a superior environment for the animals. That environment is outdoors, and constitutes a combination of woods and pasture, where hogs can root, wallow, play, explore, chew, and ingest nuts, bulbs, clovers, and grasses. Hogs are also sensitive to sunlight, as they don't carry a dense coat of hair, and thus need shade during summer months. Providing this kind of environment is feasible, and many farms do it, but the trick is doing so without destroying the ground. As hogs grow, they become increasingly effective at plowing the soil. They will literally turn it over looking for grubs, and the result is often a bare landscape, if not managed appropriately. This leads to erosion of soil and ultimately to erosion of profitability.
Two options exist for addressing the problem of topography despoiled by hogs. The first is to ring the noses of the piglets, when they are young. This prevents them from rooting as aggressively as when they don't have rings in their noses. We consider this a secondary solution, as we do want them to express their instincts in full, which includes rooting. We believe fully contented hogs make for better meat.
So, we propose solving the problem through movement. The challenge to this is creating enough paddocks for them to move through, while also being efficient in feeding and watering them. We have thus adopted a half-wagon-wheel design. Water and grain are fed in a central location, while grazing cells radiate out from the center, like a wagon-wheel or half a pie. When one wedge of the pie is impacted enough, we move the hogs to the next wedge. Length of time in the wedge depends on size of hogs and time of year or rate of regrowth of vegetation. We chose a half-wagon-wheel design rather than whole, so we don't have two groups of hogs feeding out of the same feeding station. The first group will move through Hub 1, as we call it, and then move on to Hub 2, and eventually finish in Hub 3, before being processed. The second batch follows the same sequence a month later. They may be nose to nose across hot wires, but the batches won't be commingled nor competing for space at grain troughs. We are not sure how many batches we can manage in a year.
Below is my first attempt at a video on the topic. Let us know what you think.
As a slight digression, we roasted a bone-in rib roast of beef last week. We had not done that before, because bone-in steaks have to be 30 months of age or younger. Our beeves are not typically finished enough by that time to qualify, but we thought we had a few head that might be. Since our calves are born in the fall, the spring after the third fall of their lives is close to 30 months. So, we asked for this one to be processed with a bone-in rib roast several months ago, just before the 30-month deadline. As you can see, the beef was not highly marbled. There is little fat on it. But it was very tender and it tasted so clear and clean. We cooked it at 250 degrees for about 3 hours, in a convection oven, until internal temperature came to 120, which is rare. We let it sit for a few hours, and then seared it for ten minutes at 550 degrees in the oven. We added beef fat to the top of the roast, which satisfied need for its flavor. We served it on a silver platter that has been in the back of the closet, unused, for three generations. In accompaniment were Yorkshire Pudding and asparagus. We easily imagined ourselves in a pub in England being served its best... Ah, the virtue of table travel.
Back to the question, from whence cometh Gyoza? The wheat dumpling is stuffed with a pork-based mixture that includes water chestnuts, chives, sesame oil, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and a host of other delicacies. Each is about 5 oz. in weight, and we have 8 in a package. Here they are being pan-fried on each side. If you want to steam them to cook further, put some water in the pan with a lid and cook for a few minutes. Serve alone as an hors d'oeuvre or in Pho. They are delicate and delicious; not spicy. Great for all ages. You really feel you are tasting something special.
Chris' wife, Yurie, is Japanese, and she has guided us through the process of creating this product, for which we are most grateful.
We are naming this historic product after the legendary Mt. Fuji, the tallest and most sacred mountain in Japan.
Here is a view of the slightly crunchy, refreshing filling.
So, if you want to keep your ears from being frost-bitten, if you want to be associated with a tall and sacred mountain, if you want a light and refreshing taste that is distinctly Asian, then order Mt. Fuji Gyoza here and now!
If you would like Mekong Pho to go with it, then you are in for a great journey to beautiful lands.
May the hogs be happy in their slowly turning wagon-wheel,
and may the beautiful flavor of Gyoza bring grace to your table,